The leading literary festivals 2024 across London and the UK to book now

Celebrate the power of the written word at these mind-expanding literary extravaganzas

When it comes to the best literary festivals, it seems we’re spoilt for choice this year. Whether it’s an agenda-pushing event in the capital, a family-friendly festival in a field or an idyllic book-lovers dream on a grand country estate, there’s something to suit every bibliophile’s needs. And a great literary festival isn’t just for summer – they’re held throughout the year and across the country, from south London to the Scottish highlands. Here, we’ve rounded up the best London and UK literary festivals to book tickets for now.

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literary festivals 2024 to book now

North London Book Fest

21 – 24 March

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Erin Kelly

This year sees the launch of a brand-new literary festival in the capital: the North London Book Fest. Held at Alexandra Palace, this ambitious new festival will connect readers with iconic authors as well as up-and-coming writers, with a jam-packed roster of readings, panel discussions, Q&As, workshops and book-signings. Expect deep dives for crime and thriller fans, talks by children’s authors and discussions on everything from modern parenting and the environment to sexism. Headliners for the inaugural festival include bestselling author and classicist Natalie Haynes, children’s writer Michael Rosen and Erin Kelly.

ALSO Festival

12 – 14 July

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Held in the stunning Capability Brown-designed surrounds of Compton Verney in Warwickshire, ALSO festival is a place where people come to relax, unwind and let their ideas run wild. Every year, the multi award-winning festival teams up with the UK’s best experts, authors and speakers to create a thought-provoking event like no other. On the line-up this year you’ll find bestselling psychotherapist Philippa Perry (in her only UK festival appearance this summer), as well as quantum theorist Professor David Tong, behavioural economist Dr Pragya Agarwal and Professor Sir Michael Marmot. There’ll also be comedy from the likes of Sara Pascoe, music from Jessica Winter and wellness experiences including wild swimming and sound baths.

Chalke History Festival

24 - 30 June

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If you like your literary festivals with a healthy dose of history, this is the event for you. Big name speakers on this year’s line-up include the legendary writer, actor, comedian and TV presenter Michael Palin and the award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes. Chalke History Festival will also be bringing two of the country’s most popular podcasts to life this summer. First up you’ll find Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook creating a live recording of The Rest is History, the most downloaded history podcast in the world. James Holland and Al Murray will also be hosting an episode of their incredibly popular and entertaining We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast – both are not to be missed.

Ealing Book Festival

11 - 14 April

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Ex-BBC journalists Rory Cellan-Jones and Rebecca Jones at the November 2023 launch of Ealing Book Festival

This year, it seems London is set to be the UK’s literary festival capital, with yet another new offering to add to their ever-growing list. The newly launched Ealing Book Festival will be coming to West London in April, held at the Sir John Soane-built Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing Broadway. Come to join Will Gompertz on an entertaining journey into the minds of great artists and listen to Sathnam Sanghera discuss his latest book, Empireworld. Other literary heavy hitters on the line-up include Booker Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton, Jacqueline Wilson and Bill Wyman.

Wow Manchester Festival

24 – 26 May

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Wow – which stands for ‘Women of the World’, and is the largest festival on the planet celebrating women, girls and non-binary people – is moving from its usual spot at London’s Southbank Centre to Manchester. There, it’ll be taking place in the city’s new cultural landmark space, Aviva Studios. The literary festival kicks off with an evening with Mel B, to celebrate the former Spice Girl’s launch of her critically acclaimed memoir, Brutally Honest. Elsewhere over the weekend, top activists, world-class speakers, authors and artists will come together to discuss everything from masculinity and menopause to the murky history of the fashion industry.

Budleigh Salterton

18 – 22 September

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If you like a blast of salty sea air with your literary offerings, Budleigh Salterton is the festival for you. Held on the beautiful Jurassic Coast and formerly helmed by the late Dame Hilary Mantel, Budleigh is known to attract an impressive array of critically acclaimed authors, poets and playwrights. They all descend on the south west for a weekend of thought-provoking talks, panel events and workshops. While this year’s line-up is yet to be announced, last year’s festival saw leading broadcaster David Dimbleby reflecting on his 50-year career at the BBC, author, broadcaster and structural engineer Roma Agrawal MBE discussing the seven simple inventions that changed humanity forever, and celebrated costume designer Esme Young on the power of creativity.

Deptford Literature Festival

Saturday 16 March

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Meet the Editors with Aliya Gulamani, Eishar Brar (pictured) and Marianne Tatepo – 10am-11am, The Studio, Deptford Lounge

Deptford Literature Festival is a one-day fiesta that celebrates the diversity and creativity of Deptford and Lewisham through stories and performances aimed at local audiences. Every year there’s a new theme, which for 2024 is Unheard Histories, Untold Stories. Featuring a host of talented writers, artists and organisations based in the area, this year’s line-up of events includes a queer poetry workshop with Bi+ Lines editor Helen Bowell, a morning of nature-filled tales with Deptford author Bernadette Russell and a chance to learn about Deptford Dockyard’s buried history with Lewisham resident Jody Burton.

Hay Festival

23 May – 2 June

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Thought of by many as the king of the literary festivals, this is a perennial calendar highlight for any devoted book-lover. Once dubbed ‘the Woodstock for the mind’ by Bill Clinton, Hay Festival always boasts a formidable line-up – past speakers have included Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and Benjamin Zephaniah. This year’s crop of guests is as stellar as ever, with environmental campaigner George Monbiot already announced as part of the festival’s Early Bird events to discuss his latest book, The Invisible Doctrine, and William Sieghart, Natasha McElhone and Dominic West heading to the Welsh countryside for a live edition of The Poetry Pharmacy

Kite Festival

7 - 9 June

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This literary festival held in the grounds of spectacular stately home Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire is the first of its kind, blending music and breakthrough ideas to create a unique programme featuring live performances and interactive discussions. While this year’s line-up is yet to be released, last year’s Kite Festival weekend saw Dame Joan Collins opening up about her best-selling novels and memoirs and the award-winning author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers Max Porter sharing his insights on crafting stories. As for the music, electronic pop legends Hot Chip headlined on the Saturday night, with Britpop band Suede and Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders also performing over the weekend. Watch this space – this is one you won’t want to miss.

Stratford Literary Festival

1 – 5 May

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Mary Beard

This popular literary festival is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year, so you can expect a suitably stellar line-up to mark the occasion. Held over five days, the Stratford Literary Festival will be offering a programme of nearly 70 events, with appearances from some of the UK’s best-known writers and personalities. TV Classicist Mary Beard will be bringing the Roman Empire to life, while the queen of crime fiction Val McDermid turns her pen on a re-telling of Macbeth. Elsewhere, the bestselling author of this year’s hottest TV hit One Day, David Nicholls, reveals his latest novel, You Are Here, while TV’s Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant explains why the fashion industry needs a redesign.

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

18 - 21 July

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The award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival celebrates crime fiction at its very best. Held in Harrogate and curated by international bestselling novelist Ruth Ware, it always manages to pull in the biggest names in the genre, and this year’s line-up is no exception. Special guests on the programme include Tartan Noir star Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Elly Griffiths and Denise Mina. With more authors still to be announced, you can expect a weekend full of household names and exhilarating new talent, as everyone waits to see who will be crowned this year’s winner of the prestigious Crime Novel of the Year prize.


26 - 28 July

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Held at the Food Museum in Suffolk, Primadonna prides itself on creating a space for works by women and those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. A firm favourite with budding novelists, there are insightful workshops covering everything from the politics of narration to the ever-evolving tradition of storytelling, as well as sessions on how to get your foot in the door of the publishing world. The odd festival-goer has even been known to walk away with a coveted book deal. The family-friendly event also has plenty to keep kids occupied, from craft activities to campfire stories, alongside entertaining talks from big-name writers. Last year’s highlights included appearances from Women’s Prize-shortlisted author Jacqueline Crooks, actor and author Andi Osho and bestselling author Emma Kennedy.

Chiswick Book Festival

11 - 18 September

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Photography by Roger Green

This leafy west London enclave might just be London’s most literary borough – or at least, that’s what the organisers of Chiswick Book Festival would have you think. Their acclaimed Writers Trail lists hundreds of authors who have either lived in the area or written about it, and includes the creators of some of the country’s finest works, from William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair to Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. Held across a range of venues in Chiswick, the festival brings together top authors from a variety of genres – including fiction, history, politics and children’s books – and last year featured talks from Dame Jacqueline Wilson, BBC presenter Clive Myrie and playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.

Queen’s Park Book Festival

31 August – 1 September

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© Cathy Tessdale

Queen’s Park Book Festival – held in Zadie Smith’s old stomping ground – is the only one in the capital to be held in a public park and takes place in one of north west London’s prettiest green spaces. A low-key affair that feels more like a garden fete than a full-blown festival, last year saw Smith herself take to the stage to discuss her latest novel, The Fraud, along with fellow authors Sebastian Faulks, Michel Roux and Daniel Finkelstein. Alongside that you’ll find performance poetry events hosted by hip-hop verse maestro Poetcurious and nightly parties once the sun sets.

Wimbledon Book Fest

17 – 27 October

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The hugely popular Wimbledon Book Fest – known as London’s leading community-based literature festival – has hosted some truly incredible names over the years, including Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and Emily Maitlis. Held in the leafy environs of Wimbledon Common, they also hold regular literary events throughout the year alongside their summer festival, with Clive Myrie, James O’Brien and Bettany Hughes already signed up to host special spring events this year.

Braemar Literary Festival

9 September - 1 October

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It was a match made in heaven when the Braemar Literary Festival launched in 2022, taking place at Scottish art-filled haven The Fife Arms and working in collaboration with Queen Camilla’s ‘Reading Room’, her hub for literary communities around the world. While the line-up for this year’s festival is yet to be announced, last year’s speakers included Dame Judi Dench, William Boyd and Grace Dent, so this is definitely one to add to your diaries.

Henley Literary Festival

28 September - 6 October

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While Henley might be better known for its boating regatta, it’s also home to an impressive literary festival, which takes places at various venues throughout the town, including the grand riverside private members’ club Phyllis Court and the historic town hall. Held over a week in October, last year’s Henley Literary Festival was their biggest to date, with over 130 events featuring literary heavyweights Sebastian Faulks and Ben Okri. Alongside the main event there’s also a hugely popular children’s festival, where budding bookworms get the chance to come face-to-face with their favourite authors.

Cliveden Literary Festival

21 and 22 September

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Cliveden House, the glamorous Renaissance-period country estate-turned-luxury-hotel in Berkshire, has been renowned for its literary salons since 1666 – when Lord Tennyson, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling were all entertained within the walls of the Italianate mansion. Now in its seventh year, the Cliveden Literary Festival – which has been dubbed ‘Glyndebourne for book lovers’ – featured a wide-ranging line-up of high-profile writers, historians, politics and cultural mavens last year. Particular highlights included talks with bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell, Emily Maitlis and Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

4 - 13 October

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The grande dame of the literary festival scene, Cheltenham Literature Festival holds the accolade of being the longest-running festival of its kind in the world. No wonder, then, that it never fails to bring in the big names. Every year they welcome the best and brightest of the literary world to join their jam-packed programme of over 500 interviews, debates and workshops. It’s held at venues across the city, from cafes and bars to barbershops and tattoo parlours. Highlights of last year’s event included interviews with Brian Cox, Elizabeth Day, Sadiq Khan and Charlie Mackesy.

Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival

Dates TBC

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Last year, Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival in North Yorkshire pulled out all the stops to draw a star-studded line-up of speakers, which included Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Rosemary Schrager and Andy McNab. No doubt they’ll be working hard to top that stellar roster of guests with this year’s offering. Designed to celebrate great writing and leading thinkers, expect to find some of the country’s finest authors, politicians, historians and journalists topping the bill.

London Literature Festival

October dates TBC

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This is the capital’s most talked-about literary festival of the year, and with good reason. Held at the Southbank Centre, the annual showcase of cultural talent always attracts literary big hitters, with past speakers including Hillary Clinton, Salman Rushdie and Louis Theroux. While the programme for this year’s event has yet to be released, you can expect a similarly starry line-up and a thought-provoking theme. Last year’s London Literature Festival saw the likes of Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sir Patrick Stewart, Ed Gamble and Kerry Washington on the roster of guests, while Johny Pitts and Elizabeth Day hosted a special live recording of BBC Radio 4’s Open Book.

Petworth Festival

18 October – 3 November

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Held in the perfectly preserved West Sussex market town of Petworth – nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park – this relatively under-the-radar festival always features a star-studded line-up of speakers for its eclectic range of events. Last year, Petworth Festival drew a stellar quintet of headliners that ranged from Michael Ball and Sheila Hancock to best-selling novelists Philippa Gregory and Julian Barnes. Alongside that there were appearances from the likes of TV personality Alan Titchmarsh, astronaut Tim Peake and gardening guru Sarah Raven.

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